POLICE last night sought to reassure parents in a North-East village after a man appeared in court charged with abducting a young girl.

Shaven-headed Colin Luke, 59, appeared before magistrates in Peterlee yesterday charged with two counts of sexual assault.

The incident is said to have taken place in a park in Bowburn, County Durham, on Wednesday afternoon (March 12).

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Police said parents should not be alarmed.

However, they have stepped up patrols in the village to provide parents with extra reassurance.

Paul Anderson, neighbourhood inspector for Durham City said: “We believe this is a one-off.

“This is very unusual for the area. I would say to parents: don’t worry, but be aware where your children are playing and when they’re due in.”

Mr Luke stood behind a glass screen in the dock at Peterlee Magistrates.

He entered no pleas during the ten minute hearing.

Blair Martin, prosecuting, told the court Mr Luke approached a group of children playing in the park, took a girl around her waist and “moved her”, making her feel “uncomfortable”.

Mr Martin claimed Mr Luke took another youngster by the hand and said: "We’ll go somewhere quite and have a little play."

The court was told that he took the youngster to a nearby wood.

Mr Martin said the young girl had felt scared during the incident, which ended when the child's mother called on her mobile phone.

Mr Martin asked the magistrates to decline jurisdiction and send the case to crown court, which they agreed to do.

The case was adjourned to Durham Crown Court later this month and Mr Luke was remanded in custody.